As Uber Technologies is about to make its first sale of stock to the public on Friday, app drivers in 10 major U.S. and some international cities went on strike drawing attention to unfair pay, working conditions, and job insecurity.
In New York City, Uber and Lyft drivers logged off between 7 AM and 9 AM and rallied outside the headquarters of Uber and Lyft in Long Island City at 1 PM in support of their colleagues.
While Uber’s IPO is already projected to be one of the largest in history, the future of its drivers looks bleaker. Even though the minimum pay rate for New York City’s app-based drivers went up to around $17 (after expenses) in January, drivers are still faced with unfair account deactivations and job insecurity and demand an end to unexpected expulsions and the right to fight the unfair tactic in court.
Drivers report that Uber arbitrarily deactivates them without prior notice or providing a reason. Varinder Kumar, NYTWA member, Lyft and Juno driver, and former Uber driver, “Uber deactivated me five months ago without any reason. I went to the Uber office a few times, and they refused to tell me why I was deactivated. I’ve been a professional driver in New York City since 1992, and I have never once gotten a traffic ticket or been in a car accident.”
Sonam Lama, NYTWA member and Uber driver since 2015 said, “I’m striking for my kid’s future. But it’s becoming harder and harder. First Uber cut the rates; then they put too many cars on the roads, so there weren’t enough fares to go around. In the IPO filing, Uber said drivers would only get more dissatisfied because they plan to cut our pay and stop incentives. We don’t want our wages to stay just minimum. We want Uber to answer to us, not to investors. Uber executives are getting rich off of our work; they should treat us with respect. We are striking to send a message that drivers will keep rising up.”